Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Thirteen Steps

As I am awaiting the feedback from my Beta readers and preparing for my conference and working my dayjob and making the most of my Netflix account before it expires on the 20th, I find myself lacking things to do.

My original plan for my year was to write two super-fast, roulette-style novels. Short, to the point, vaguely risky ideas that might take me nowhere. One turned out to be Lorelei, Once, which I fell in love with and spent the year hammering into existence.

The second was a Weird West style novella called Thirteen Steps. It is darker in tone than Lorelei, Once, but has that same fantasy/horror charm that I am beginning to suspect is just my bag. I'd like to tinker with it, but I'm hesitant about leaping into it before Lorelei is totes complete.

Here is the first page, though, for anyone interested.


There’s a noose outside, waiting for me. I can press my face through the rusted bars and stare out at it. Thirteen steps up to the platform, dangling from the scaffold, dancing in the dusty wind that passes through town. Come out, it’s saying. I’ve finally caught up, it’s saying, Come out, come out, and do my dance.

Midday tomorrow is when they’ll lead me out, holding my arms and doing all but moving my legs for me. That part I’ll do on my own. The dust will have been buried deep in the rope by then, and the rope will bury deep in my neck, and then the crowd will holler and that Mister Pollock from the paper will snap his pictures. It ain’t often a woman is hanged. A spectacle, he called it.

Midday, and then the noose won’t have to wait no more. And a long wait it’s been. I’ve led it a long chase since that day in Highwater. 

Seems it was a dusty, windy sort of time then, too. There weren’t no bars involved that time. Just me, and some men, and a tree with what seems to have been that very same noose dangling from it. With my dress all torn to shreds and my face and my hands all bloodied, and the heat rushing around in my limbs, all I could do was shriek and struggle and not that hard at that.

“Now, gents, this ain’t the way, this ain’t the way,” was saying the deputy from his horse. He didn’t stop nobody, though, and the Sheriff was too busy back in his house, mourning.

I got pulled up onto a little stool and I stopped fighting, though I damn near fainted as they lifted my head back to fit that scratchy rope around me. Maybe it weren’t the way, them dragging me out to the tree like that, but even I knew that it was how things would end. Judge, jury and all would send me right back out given the chance. That’s what happens to the guilty. They get punished, and good.

But not that day.

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